This is a personal blog and should be taken as such. So don't sue me if what I write pisses you off. Or if I write lies. Or if I give maladvice. Or if you fail to read through my sarcasm. Et cetera.
I like stalkers.
Is it in bad taste to quote one's self?
"The greatest of debaters are not only the most eloquent -- they are the most bruised, the most resilient, the strongest of heart." -- Andrew Loh
Quotes "How many times have you chickened out?" - Qu Hsueh Ming
"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein
"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile - hoping it will eat him last." - Sir Winston Churchill
"Affirmative action is something the good don't need and the bad don't deserve" - A wise man
"The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation's greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us." - John F. Kennedy
"The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were." - John F. Kennedy
"I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually." - James A. Baldwin
"Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is but a broken winged bird that cannot fly." - Langston Hughes
"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." - Sir Winston Churchill
"Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?" - Alfred Lord Tennyson
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." - John Calvin Coolidge
"We will either find a way or make one." - Hannibal
"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." - Napoleon Bonaparte
"For evil to triumph, it is only necessary for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
"War begins in the minds of men, and it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must first be constructed." - UNESCO Constitution
"The proper study of mankind is man." - Alexander Pope
"My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death." - Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens): A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
"Patriotism is to support your country all the time and your government when it deserves it" - Mark Twain
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw
"Democracy is a system ensuring that the people are governed no better than they deserve." - George Bernard Shaw
"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all." -- Noam Chomsky
"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." - George Orwell
"When the people fear the government, you have tyranny. When the government fears the people, you have freedom." - Thomas Paine
"I sense a learning: that much dumber people than you end up in charge. Look at the way things are. I'm no fucken genius or anything, but these spazzos are in charge of my every twitch. What I'm starting to think is maybe only the dumb are safe in this world, the ones who roam with the herd, without thinking about every little thing. But see me? I have to think about every little fucken thing." - Vernon God Little, Act II
A surprisingly high number of them actually are. (not really)
It's not as hard when you're smarter than your teacher, if he's nice.
But this brings back memories lah. Malaysian textbooks and their bullshit facts -- don't know how many in History alone.
And now for one of my favourite quotes:
Vernon God Little, Act II
I sense a learning: that much dumber people than you end up in charge. Look at the way things are. I'm no fucken genius or anything, but these spazzos are in charge of my every twitch. What I'm starting to think is maybe only the dumb are safe in this world, the ones who roam with the herd, without thinking about every little thing. But see me? I have to think about every little fucken thing.
I'm going to type it out so that google will track it.
Dear Mrs (....),
You may already know this, but in case Alex has neglected to tell you, I am assigning him to detention for one hour this Friday, April 22nd. The reason is as follows:
Alex consistently defied me. During class he contradicted me numerous times when I insisted that the length of one kilometer was greater than that of one mile. Every other student in class accepted my lesson without argument, but your son refused to believe what I told himi, offering such rebuttals as, "You're lying to the class," and commanding other students to challenge my curriculum.
Although he was correct, Alex's actions show a blatant disregard for authority, and a complete lack of respect for his school. In the future, Alex would be better off simply accepting my teachings without resistance.
Please see to it that your son understands this.
Regards, Adam Hilliker
So Singaporean. So Asian. So my freaking personal history.
Funniest thing is, the letter on John's facebook was posted on his (Dartmouth) PROFESSOR'S door, with this added:
"From a colleague now in grad school for behavioural psychology. If you ever wondered what's wrong with science education in the USA, well, here you go."
Notwithstanding that I was also a teacher. Hohoho.
Office workers and students may have to look for new ways to
procrastinate, because one of the world's most popular online games
could soon be shut down. The makers of Scrabble have asked Facebook to
remove Scrabulous, a popular version of the game, from its website.
In a move that has drawn protests from online fans of the game
worldwide, the toymakers Hasbro and Mattel are pressuring the social
networking site to ditch Scrabulous because, they argue, it infringes
The Facebook application – which users can
add to the personal profiles they create on the site – is hugely
popular. About 600,000 users play the game online every day.
Thousands of players joined a "save Scrabulous" group on Facebook
within hours of the news breaking. Many pointed out that they had
bought the board game after playing the game online.
One student at a British university wrote: "Shameful as it is, I've
headed out to buy a Scrabble set as a direct result of Scrabulous."
Many, including the promoters of Scrabble tournaments, have credited
Facebook with prompting a renaissance of the word game among young
people. Another Facebook user, from London, wrote: "How ridiculous!
Scrabulous had massively raised the profile of Scrabble, rendering it
actually quite cool (where it was once seen as rather geeky)."
Some Facebook users posted the contact details of the toymakers on a
message board, urging fans to inundate them with complaints in an
effort to get the decision overturned.
Scrabulous is one of
Facebook's ten most popular applications. According to the Scrabulous
website it has 594,924 daily users – about a quarter of the number that
have signed up to play it.
The request to remove the game came
from both Hasbro and Mattel, as ownership of the Scrabble trademark is
split between the two companies. Hasbro owns rights to the game in the
US and Canada, and Mattel has rights for the rest of the world.
In a statement, Mattel said: "Letters have been sent to Facebook in the
United States regarding the Scrabulous application. Mattel values its
intellectual property and actively protects its brands and trademarks.
"As Mattel owns the rights to the Scrabble trademark outside the United
States and Canada, we are currently reviewing our position regarding
Yesterday users could still play the game
online. Facebook told news agencies that it had no comment to make on
the manufacturers' request.
The Scrabulous add-on was not
built by Facebook but was created for the site by Rajat and Jayant
Agarwalla, software developers based in Calcutta.
Admitting that the pair were earning $25,000 (£13,000) a month from advertising on the application, Jayant Agarwalla told Fortune magazine: "They sent a notice to Facebook about two weeks ago. The lawyers are working on it."
Stewart Holden, from the Association of British Scrabble Players, said:
"We are very keen to see anything which gets young people playing
Scrabble for the first time. Nothing has done that over the past five
years better than the Scrabulous application on Facebook. Many of our
members use it.
"We understand the legal reasons for it [the
request], but the effect the site has had on the game is undeniable. It
would be a shame if that had to come to an end."
such as Scrabulous are regarded widely as one of the key reasons for
the popularity of Facebook. The site is thought to have about 39
million members worldwide, and accounts for 1 per cent of all internet
The application has helped to spawn many "Scrabble
cheat" websites for those players desperate to win at all costs.
Websites such as Scrabblesolver (ROFLMAO!!!!!)
provide users with an almost guaranteed victory. The sites can work out
the best moves by allowing players to see every possible word
combination with the letters they have in their hand.
Last week India was hit by a terror attack that unsettled the country. A gunman entered the main conference hall of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, tossed four grenades into the audience and, when the explosives failed, fired his AK-47 at the crowd. One man, a retired professor of mathematics from one of the Indian Institutes of Technology, was killed. What has worried some about this attack is not its scope or planning or effect--all unimpressive--but the target. The terrorists went after what is increasingly seen as India's core strategic asset for the 21st century: its scientific and technological brain trust. If that becomes insecure, what will become of India's future?
This small event says a lot about global competition. Traveling around Asia for most of the past month, I have been struck by the relentless focus on education. It makes sense. Many of these countries have no natural resources, other than their people; making them smarter is the only path for development. China, as always, appears to be moving fastest. When officials there talk about their plans for future growth, they point out that they have increased spending on colleges and universities almost tenfold in the past 10 years. Yale's president, Richard Levin, notes that Peking University's two state-of-the-art semiconductor fabrication lines--each employing a different technology--outshine anything in the United States. East Asian countries top virtually every global ranking of students in science and mathematics.
But one thing puzzles me about these oft-made comparisons. I talked to Tharman Shanmugaratnam to understand it better. He's the minister of Education of Singapore, the country that is No. 1 in the global science and math rankings for schoolchildren. I asked the minister how to explain the fact that even though Singapore's students do so brilliantly on these tests, when you look at these same students 10 or 20 years later, few of them are worldbeaters anymore. Singapore has few truly top-ranked scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, business executives or academics. American kids, by contrast, test much worse in the fourth and eighth grades but seem to do better later in life and in the real world. Why?
"We both have meritocracies," Shanmugaratnam said. "Yours is a talent meritocracy, ours is an exam meritocracy. There are some parts of the intellect that we are not able to test well--like creativity, curiosity, a sense of adventure, ambition. Most of all, America has a culture of learning that challenges conventional wisdom, even if it means challenging authority. (Lee Kuan Yew: *GASP* OMGWTFBBQ) These are the areas where Singapore must learn from America."
Shanmugaratnam also pointed out that American universities are unrivaled globally--and are getting better. "You have created a public-private partnership in tertiary education that is amazingly successful. The government provides massive funding, and private and public colleges compete, raising everyone's standards." Shanmugaratnam highlighted in particular the role that American foundations play. "Someone in society has to be focused on the long term, on maintaining excellence, on raising quality. You have this array of foundations--in fact, a whole tradition of civic-minded volunteerism--that fulfills this role. For example, you could not imagine American advances in biomedical sciences without the Howard Hughes Foundation."
Singapore is now emphasizing factors other than raw testing skills when selecting its top students. But cultures are hard to change. A Singaporean friend recently brought his children back from America and put them in his country's much-heralded schools. He described the difference. "In the American school, when my son would speak up, he was applauded and encouraged. In Singapore, he's seen as pushy and weird. The culture of making learning something to love and engage in with gusto is totally absent. Here it is a chore. Work hard, memorize and test well." He took his child out of the Singapore state school and put him into a private, Western-style one.
Despite all the praise Shanmugaratnam showered on the States, he said that the U.S. educational system "as a whole has failed." "Unless you are comfortably middle class or richer," he explained, "you get an education that is truly second-rate by any standards. Apart from issues of fairness, what this means is that you never really access the talent of poor, bright kids. They don't go to good schools and, because of teaching methods that focus on bringing everyone along, the bright ones are never pushed. In Singapore we get the poor kid who is very bright and very hungry, and that's crucial to our success.
"From where I sit, it's not a flat world," Shanmugaratnam concluded. "It's one of peaks and valleys. The good news for America is that the peaks are getting higher. But the valleys are getting deeper, and many of them are also in the United States."
Fascism was an international movement that appeared in different
forms in different countries, depending on the vagaries of national
culture and temperament. In Germany, fascism appeared as genocidal
racist nationalism. In America, it took a friendlier, more liberal
form. The modern heirs of this friendly "fascist" tradition include
The New York Times, the Democratic Party, the Ivy League professoriate, and the liberals of
Hollywood.The quintessential Liberal Fascist isn't an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.
Jonah Goldberg: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.
Published: December 15 2007 00:49 | Last updated: December 15 2007 00:49
Dear Economist, My
boyfriend spends a lot of time in front of the mirror, prettying
himself up. I am pleased to have a well-groomed man in my life but it
is a bit unnerving. Should I get him to stop? PL, Warwick
boyfriend’s disturbing personal-grooming habit offers you financial as
well as aesthetic benefits. Economists have known for some time that
better-looking people are paid more. This is probably due to a
combination of discrimination against the ugly, the fact that some
beautiful people have jobs where beauty is an obvious advantage, and
the likelihood that better-looking people are more confident.
recently, economists have discovered evidence that endogenous beauty
(make-up, hair-styling) is as important as exogenous beauty (having
Bond girl Eva Green’s eyes).
Economists Daniel Hamermesh, Xin
Meng and Junsen Zhang have found that spending money on clothes and
make-up slightly raises the earnings of Shanghai workers. More recently
Jayoti Das and Stephen DeLoach, of Elon University’s economics
department, have shown that time spent on grooming substantially
improves wages, especially for men.
They estimate that each extra
10 minutes a man spends in front of the mirror will raise his wages by
6 per cent. (Women would have to spend two or three hours to get the
same effect.) So if you prefer your boyfriend to be rich, don’t stand
between him and his mirror.
I do not know why you’re complaining.
Perhaps you’re afraid that your boyfriend is becoming too attractive to
rivals. If so, dump him and find yourself someone desperate. An
When acceptance letters went out for the class of 2012 earlier this week, Swarthmore did not ask a single student to take on loans. And next year, one third of Swarthmore's population will receive much higher grants. Swarthmore has decided to do away with loans for students on financial aid.
"The decision was made this past weekend," said College Vice President Maurice Eldridge '61. "We didn't go into the meeting expecting to make the decision, but it just happened. We leapfrogged our planning."
It is a massive change to Swarthmore's financial aid program. Dropping all loans will cost the College roughly $1.7 million every year, which amounts to a 8.5% increase in financial aid spending. The College currently spends $20 million every year on financial aid.
The last change of similar magnitude was in 1998, according to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jim Bock '90. It was then that the College made the Swarthmore Scholars program no-loan. This new decision is still unique in its sheer size. "There hasn't been another change that has affected this many people," said Bock.
The change will affect the 2/3 of the students receiving financial aid who currently receive loans—a total of nearly 500 students. On average, these students have loans of roughly $12,000 according to Bock.
"Our cap on loans is going from $15,000 to 0," said Bock with a big smile.
It is not clear why the Board decided 2007 was the year to make the change, but it was probably a combination of pressure from other peer schools–Davidson, Amherst, and Williams all have gone no-loan in the past year, and Harvard went no-loan on Monday–and a strong feeling among Board members that the change was simply the right thing to do.
"We've always been one of the leaders in how we give out need-based aid," explained Bock. Swarthmore will be the sixth college to have eliminated loans–Princeton was the first, followed by the four mentioned above.
Eldridge mirrored Bock's comments. "The Board was motivated by its principles, and the fact that Swarthmore has always tried to be really accessible," he said. "There is a perception that [Swarthmore] is impossible to afford or that debt is very scary."
The ongoing planning process helped set the stage for the change, as the College is still engaged in the Middle States Review process.
The next big question is how to raise the estimated $40 million required to endow this change in perpetuity. Eldridge thought it would be a challenge, but noted that financial aid is a relatively easy program to raise money for.
"Among all the things the college raises funds for, financial aid is the most popular, along with faculty chairs," he said.
After this monumental decision, where does Swarthmore go next? Bock is clear what his next target would be: "We aren't need blind for internationals." Still, he is heartened to know that the decision to go no-loan will have a big impact on current international students. "Few internationals are in the current group of no-loan students," he revealed.